Thursday, May 25, 2006

Haven't I Heard That Before??

As one of my many activities, I write a weekly column about Big Band music and old songs for the local newspaper. Occasionally, as I notice them, I will comment on old music used in commercials. Why ads aimed at today's consumers would use music that goes back as far as 1924 is beyond me, but apparently they feel it will sell their product.

For instance, Lipitor used "I Only Have Eyes For You." A good song, but it certainly predates the product by some years. Pillsbury and Chase Bank both use "Tea For Two," a piece Moses used to sing as he wandered in the desert. is, appropriately, singing "It Had To Be You," an old chestnut. Appleby's, figuring nobody knows that "Mack The Knife" is a terrible narrative about murder, cheers up our appetite with it. Unless, of course, you know the plot of this Moritat, or "death song" (Bobby Darin to the contrary notwithstanding).

I'm so interested in music that, often, I can't remember what product the songs are selling. Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" for ... uh, let's see ... hmmm ... oh, yeah -- GMC vans and Pantene something or other.

I'm sure the composers don't give a rat's butt about any of this, 'cuz their cash register rings every time the commercial plays. They (or their estate) own the rights and get paid every time the piece is used. Write a good song and you are set; make it the kind of piece that can be done solo, by a small group or the Boston Pops. If you can convince DHL that "Pick Yourself Up" fits their concept of package pick-up, that telling viewers Lexus is a good car when "Baby, It's Cold Outside," then you have it made.

Listen to the music in the commercials. Haven't you heard that before?


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